Abc7 Reasons to boycott the 2015 Expo-Potemkin village.

Dear Non-Italian resident: You may have heard that the 2015 Expo opens in Milan on May 1, 2015. You may even have booked a ticket or considered going to Italy for it. If you have visited the numer...

Dear Non-Italian resident:

You may have heard that the 2015 Expo opens in Milan on May 1, 2015.

You may even have booked a ticket or considered going to Italy for it.

If you have visited the numerous websites recently built for the event or if you surf the web, you are already familiar with the instant mockery these sites have generated with their hilarious ‘Google translations’ and you already know that the event will be an organizational nightmare and a global fiasco.

Most likely, you have already decided not to come. If you haven’t done any of the above, you might be interested in knowing the following. A week ago, an article on this website revealed a truth that has been evident for seven years or, to be exact, since March 2008, when Milan was deemed capable of organizing an event of this magnitude. The truth is, the site will not even be ready by the date it is supposed to close (October 30, 2015) let alone for the opening in 60 days. The solution? Typically Italian: put up a front, a facade, hiding what lies behind. In other words, a new Potemkin village.

A ‘Potemkin village—PV—is a fake village, built only to impress. The name is due to Gregory Potemkin who erected fake settlements along the banks of the Dnieper River to fool Empress Catherine II during her journey to Crimea in 1787. The phrase is now used, typically in politics and economics, to describe any construction (literal or figurative) built solely to deceive others into thinking that a situation is better than it really is. A recent version of a PV is provided by the sub-par accommodations in Sochi, before the 2014 Winter Olympics held there: ‘The top-grade hotels appeared splendid at first look, with gilt and brocade in chandeliered lobbies. But 15 minutes on the premises showed the feint behind the façade.’ The Milan version of a PV is the result of 7 years of uninterrupted scheming and power struggles of the worst kind among the city’s so-called political and financial elite, who used a well-oiled, well-known modus operandi that has become the only modus operandi for organizing a big public event in Italy (and sadly, in a growing number of other countries). Here’s how it works: every decision is postponed to the very last minute so that emergency status can be claimed by the authority and those in line to profit the most by working 3 shifts a day and pocketing 3 times the allotted budget. In seven years, not a single competition was launched. Architects in general, were kept at bay, and the result is there to see.

All of the above is well known and is generating a lot of press, but most of it is only available in Italian. What is even more troubling is that even though all of the above is well known to all local and global boards involved in organizing the event (including the BIE, Bureau International des Expositions), none of them is voicing concern. On the contrary, they are in the process of organizing last minute publicity that, like the above-mentioned websites, is only making matters worse.

This letter is being written in response to this and to urge you to boycott the event. This is necessary for the following personal and collective reasons:

If you decide to visit:

-you will find yourself in a total, disorganized, and permanent mess

-it will take hours for you to move around (the infrastructure has not been completed, and taxi-drivers will be aggressive or absent, thanks to the unmatched ability of their corporation to forbid the municipality  into releasing new licenses

-you will ‘get milked’ beyond reason–everything will cost 3 times what it should be (in a city where everything is already too pricy) thanks to the ‘expo rate’ that restaurant, shops, hotels and accommodation will instantly apply

-you will find yourself in a permanent ‘Google translation’ of an event

If you decide NOT to visit:

-you will be instrumental in pressing charges against those ‘in charge’

-you will be helpful in starting a process that may eradicate most of the individuals responsible for the corruption that has long strangled the city

-you will be instrumental in promoting collective outrage for the gigantic waste of public money, totaling some 11 billion euros!

Gregory Potemkin was a favorite of the Russian Empress Catherine II.

He set up “mobile villages” on the banks of the Dnieper River.

As soon as the Empress and ambassadors arrived, Potemkin’s men, dressed as peasants, populated the village.

Once they left, the village was disassembled and then rebuilt downstream overnight.

In Milan, you can rest assured that the PV will engulf the site for decades.

You are most welcome to voice your support of this petition in the comments here.

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